Social engineering attacks are more prominent (and devastating) than ever because we have so many digital endpoints to store and share our personal details. As consumers and businesses have grown suspicious of classic scams, cyberattackers are now using sophisticated social engineering attacks to gain snippets of victims’ personal details and piecing them together over several months to execute highly targeted frauds.
According to a CS Hub report, 75% of security experts think social engineering will be the most dangerous threat going forward. But that doesn’t mean there’s no solution. The best way to prevent social engineering attacks is to detect them early. Here are 5 ways you can spot a social engineering scammer:
- You receive unsolicited messages
One of the major signs of social engineering scams is unsolicited messages. If you receive an email, text, or phone call from someone you don’t know, do not panic. First, examine the message carefully for any signs of suspicious content, such as grammatical errors, unusual phrasing, or an overly aggressive tone. If you think something’s wrong with the content, you’re probably right.
- You’re asked to do something unusual
Even if you receive a text from someone you may know or expect, it’s important to make sure they’re not asking something out of the ordinary. This could include asking for personal information, money, or access to your computer or accounts.
If you receive an unusual request, take a few moments to evaluate the situation. If the context of the request does not make sense for the sender to be asking, this could be a sign of a social engineering scam.
- The action can harm you
Another way to spot a potential social engineering attack is to evaluate if the request is harmful to you. The attacker may ask you to do something that puts your personal information, financial data, or even your physical safety at risk. Before you act on a request, consider the impact and make sure it’s not harming you in any way.
These actions could include clicking on a suspicious link, downloading an attachment, or disclosing personal information such as passwords or social security numbers.
- The message contains an unusual file or URL
As discussed in the previous step, social engineering scammers often include unusual files in emails or URLs in text messages. They either need you to give up critical information or infect your devices with malware to take over your accounts. Don’t click on any link or attachment if you’re not sure about its content.
- The message is urgent
Social engineering attacks thrive on victims’ errors in judgment. Scammers try to create a sense of urgency, hoping that leads to impulsive decision-making. These may include a false security breach, a pending legal issue, or a financial emergency.
By rushing you into making a decision, they hope to catch you off guard and exploit vulnerabilities. Take the time to think through and if you’re ever in doubt, remember it’s always better to err on the side of caution. In such cases, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted contact or IT professional for advice